2021 Women of Excellence,
Executive of the Year:
Molly McFarland, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, AdAdapted
Molly McFarland offers a unique perspective as a woman in the tech start-up world. A native of Maine and a graduate of Tulane University in English and creative writing, she started her career at an architecture firm before marketing software. But in 2012, she added co-founder to her list of credentials when she and a previous coworker and friend, Mike Pedersen, opened the doors for mobile ad solution company AdAdapted.
Consumer behavior was changing rapidly at the time and McFarland says shoppers were increasingly adopting mobile into their path to purchase. “It was clear, even early on, that mobile devices would change how consumers navigated the shopping experience and their activities in the real world would be influenced by what was happening in those digital environments,” she says.
The realization that apps were a critical driver of these changes — and that they provided valuable and useful data — sparked the notion that there would be “an enormous opportunity” to help advertisers connect the dots between how shopping behaviors were changing and how they could engage their consumers, she adds.
But even at that time, McFarland says the company couldn’t have known just how much mobile would affect how people shop. The evolution is far from over, she predicts, highlighted by the immense changes the industry has witnessed throughout the pandemic, as shoppers have shifted further toward e-commerce options.
As chief revenue officer for AdAdapted, McFarland brings expertise in the mobile advertising environment, add-to-list solutions, and extensive knowledge on how to reach and engage consumers in an ever-changing ad space. Empowering top CPG brands, agencies and retailers to enhance their behavioral targeting capabilities, the AdAdapted platform offers a strategic approach to aligning brands with category-relevant consumers and creating a data-driven connection based on prior engagement and activity.
McFarland has led the company’s growth from a team of two to nearly 70 employees. While the opportunity for the business has remained consistent, growing and scaling the company has been the biggest challenge, McFarland says. “Shifting from a small startup to a fully fledged, but still growing company has created different dynamics and obstacles,” she notes. “That said, our growth to this point enables us to do things we never could have dreamed of five years ago.”
Under her leadership, AdAdapted has doubled revenue year-over-year for several years running and was recently recognized on the Inc. 5000 list for the second consecutive year with 372% three-year revenue growth.
McFarland says her vision for the company is clear. “We want to be the solution for any advertiser who wants a shopper to save an item to buy later,” she says. “We have a patent on our add-to-list technology, which we believe makes us the current best-in-class and future option for advertisers in our space.”